QUETTA, May 2: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has said that the military operation in Balochistan has been stopped.

Addressing the Balochistan cabinet here on Friday, the prime minister asked the federal and provincial governments to withdraw all cases registered against former chief minister Sardar Akhtar Mengal so that he could be released.

“I asked the military to stop operation in Balochistan until I am briefed by the new provincial government on the ground realities in the province,” he said.

“It has been decided that no army action will be carried out in the province until a strategy is formulated in consultation with representatives of the provincial government to deal with the issue of law and order in the province,” he said.

Prime Minister Gilani said he had been briefed by the army on the law and order situation in various areas but he had postponed the briefing on Balochistan till the formation of the provincial government. He said he wanted representatives of Balochistan to attend the briefing so that a decision could be taken after consultation.

The prime minister urged the provincial ministers to play their role in improving law and order. “You can manage law and order because you represent your parties and also the tribes,” he said.

He urged the provincial government to improve the civil structure by making the cabinet effective, hold open hearings for common people’s complaints and visit different areas to address their grievances.

He said: “I instruct all provincial governments and the federal government to withdraw all cases against Balochistan National Party president Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal.”

“In my opinion, Sardar Akhtar should be released,” he said.

The prime minister ordered the provincial governments to use all available resources to trace the ‘missing people’ of Balochistan and other provinces.

He asked his Adviser on Interior Affairs Rehman Malik to take immediate steps in this regard.

Mr Gilani said he had asked the Pakistan Agricultural Supply and Storage Corporation to provide 100,000 tons of wheat to Balochistan and ensure smooth supply to the province. He said the government was aware of problems of wheat transportation. “The ministry of food and agriculture has set up a task force in this regard.”

He said Balochistan had a stock of wheat for 15 days and it would get 200,000 tons being imported by the government.

Mr Gilani said that energy, wheat and water crises were caused by wrong policies of the previous government and steps were being taken to resolve them.

Referring to the sense of deprivation among the people of Balochistan, he said the government was aware of injustices meted out to the people by the pervious government. “After the mandate given to the Pakistan People’s Party and other democratic forces, it is our responsibility to undo the injustices, especially in Balochistan.”

He said the government would take all possible steps for the welfare of the people on Balochistan and to bring them into the mainstream.

Prime Minister Gilani promised that the government and people of the province would be taken into confidence on the mega development projects launched by the federal government.

“There will be no hindrance in providing funds for the major projects,” he said.

He promised that the six per cent quota of Balochistan in jobs in federal services would be met. He said he had directed the cabinet to create more jobs for Balochistan.

He informed the provincial cabinet that five officers of Balochistan had been promoted to grade 22.

The prime minister said the federal government would provide maximum funds to law-enforcement agencies for maintaining law and order in the province.

He said the government would ensure just distribution of share of the provinces in the federal divisible pool to solve their financial problems.

The chief ministers have been asked to nominate their representatives for the National Finance Commission award.

He said the issue of converting of ‘B’ areas into ‘A’ in Balochistan for bringing them under police control would be taken up in the proposed all parties conference.

The prime minister said the government would launch projects aimed at generating energy from non-traditional sources to solve the problem of loadshedding.

He announced that 100 houses would be built for shelterless people in the provincial capital. The provincial government will provide land and centre will bear construction.

He said it was impossible to supply natural gas to Musakhel and Barkhan districts before the completion of the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline.

He said work on gas exploration projects in Jhal Magsi district would be started after improvement in the law and order situation in the area.

Prime Minister Gilani said Pakistan would get 1,100 megawatts of electricity from Iran and Balochistan would get the highest share from the project.

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